Dawn. Several children still asleep in their blankets, on the ground outside the house. Good desert smells. The older girls are beginning their chores: water has to be brought from the tanker; milk is being churned, or perhaps pasteurized, in what could be a repurposed washing-machine. There is a new baby, two months old, sleeping in her crib. Ghazal, maybe a year and a half old, holds a glass of tea in her hand while her eyes, obsidian black, study Yigal and me with unwavering interest. Then a smile. Nadia asks if we’ve been well. Yigal answers with the blessing: “‘aishin min shafek,” “We come alive when we see you.”Continue reading
Muarrajat. April 7, 2023, text and photos by David Shulman
One momentous event took place during today’s grazing. I’ll tell you in a minute.
March 3, 2023. Hawara. Text: David Shulman; Photographs: Dood Evan
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April 6-8, 1903 (Julian calendar), Kishinev, Bessarabia: A mob, led partly by Orthodox Russian priests, descends upon the town, killing 49 Jews, wounding scores more, raping many Jewish women, burning down Jewish homes. The local police stand by, watching, making no attempt to stop the massacre. Some of the Jewish men fight back with the meager tools in their possession. Children see their parents murdered before their eyes. Shock waves engulf the Jewish communities of eastern Europe and beyond. In response, many Jewish young men join the anti-Czarist revolutionaries; others leave for Palestine to build a new life for the Jews. Bialik, the national Hebrew poet, writes an epic poem on the massacre.Continue reading
Muarrajat, January 20, 2023. Text: David Shulman
Umm Rashid, the most intrepid of the ‘Auja shepherdesses, has sold off most of her sheep and goats. I don’t have all the details; a close friend of hers sold her herd a few months earlier. I assume she couldn’t take any more of the ceaseless harassment, beatings, and threats from the settlers. But I don’t think this is the end of the story.Continue reading
December 2, 2022 Al-‘Auja. Text: David Shulman. Photographs: Margaret Olin and David Shulman
Just after dawn, the air still cold; Umm Rashid tells us on the phone that she plans to take the herd deeper into the hills, closer to the big settlement, where there’s more edible green on the ground. Good, we say, we’re with you. But it takes some time before we find each other in the open spaces of the desert. A second herd, Nawal’s, is just visible on the top of the ridge.Continue reading
October 29, 2022. Umm al-‘Ara’is. Text by David Shulman. Photographs by Margaret Olin
By 8:00 when we arrive at Simri, some twenty soldiers are already waiting for us.Continue reading
Random Stopping: A Day in the South Hebron Hills: Umm Al-‘Ara’is, Sh’ab al-Butam, Ar-Rakiz
Umm Al-‘Ara’is. We must see at least twenty soldiers. The first few are friendly. They say they’d been stationed in the territories for four months. When Zev asks them to describe their duties, one of them answers, “stopping people randomly from going to work.” This sets a pattern for the day.Continue reading
Take our picture! Umm Al-‘Ara’is, October, 2022
“Why are these children so wild?” the soldier asked me.
“Could it be because their father has just been arrested?” I answer.
“And do you know why he was arrested? Because he was in a closed military zone.”
“But he was on his own land.”
“You are making me laugh.”
“So who’s land is it?”
“Have you never heard of Abraham? When he was here thousands of years ago, there weren’t any … Palestinians.” The pause before the word “Palestinian” seemed to express a certain distaste.
I am with the `Awad family again. I wanted to visit beautiful Umm al-Amad, but Guy told me that Sa’id’s worsening situation needs documenting. He was right.Continue reading
Photographic Empowerment. Umm Al-‘Ara’is, spring and summer, 2022
Remember Sa’id and his many children who accompany him every week to the fields? I hadn’t seen them for nearly three years, but I could recognize them at a distance from Jibrin’s pastures (if you can call a rocky patch with a few scrubby thorns a “pasture”) as they arrived for their weekly visit on the ridge far above us. Then they descended into the next wadi and disappeared.Continue reading
Qawawis, Ar-Rakiz, June 4, 2022. Text, photographs by Margaret Olin
Until the police came and started barking orders and pushing people, or rather until the first stun grenade set everybody running, the morning in the South Hebron Hills seemed reasonably peaceful.Continue reading